A recently published paper asserts that ovarian cancer risk may be partly determined by genes inherited from a woman’s father.
A study published Thursday in PLoS Genetics shows that fathers may be at least partly responsible for passing on ovarian cancer risk in women.
One of the main ovarian cancer risk factors is a mutation on a gene found on the X chromosome, known as MAGEC3. Women with a mutation on this gene tend to get ovarian around 7 years earlier than they would without the mutation, with the average age of dealing with cancer in women with the mutation being 44.
Women have two X chromosomes in their cells, one from their mother, and one from their father. According to Kevin Eng, a researcher at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute who spoke to Newsweek regarding his work on the paper, “The gene does exist on mom’s chromosome’s [sic] too…If you do inherit it from the dad, the pattern is really all or nothing…That means you and every one of your sisters is [sic] going to carry the mutation.”
If a woman has the ovarian cancer risk mutation, there’s a chance she could pass it onto her children. But considering a woman has two x chromosomes she could possibly give her daughter, the chances of a child inheriting the ovarian cancer risk factor is much lower.
In order to carry out the study, Eng and his colleagues utilized data from an ovarian cancer registry for people who have experienced at least two cases of the disease in their family. According to Eng, “Physicians at Roswell Park have been running this registry for quite a long time.” Around 35 years, to be precise, with about 2700 families registered.
In addition to the MAGEC3 mutation, there are other more famous gene issues tied to ovarian cancer risks, known as BRCA1 and BRCA2. The American Cancer Society reports that women who carry a BRCA1 mutation have up to a 70 percent ovarian cancer risk of getting the illness at some point in their life.
Currently, there’s no testing that can be done for the MAGEC3 ovarian cancer risk mutation. It could theoretically be developed, but this discovery is relatively recent and there’s currently not really a way to check for it on a scale that is easy to roll out.
However, it’s important to note that less than 10 percent of ovarian cancers are due to genetic mutations, and that Ovarian cancer is responsible for less than 2 percent of new cancer diagnoses each year in the United States – according to the American Cancer Society.
While this gene mutation is tied to ovarian cancer risk, a big part of what contributes to a potential cancer is your age, environment, and lifestyle choices. Smoking and drinking excessively as well as having unsafe sex can contribute to cancer risk. Being exposed to carcinogens is also a major issue, so making sure you spend as much time away from smoke and other harmful chemicals is key. Also, as age increases the likelihood of cancer does as well. The majority of cancer cases happen when cells make a mistake while dividing and continue to divide uncontrollably. As people age, it’s statistically more likely that this will occur.
Until there’s testing to see whether the MAGEC3 mutation is contributing to your ovarian cancer risk, this discovery is nothing more than a piece of knowledge that’s useful to keep in mind. Moving forward, however, the knowledge of this mutation may help with family planning, and assessing and preparing for dealing with increased ovarian cancer risk.